We have not been able to track down exactly who Mr. Mazzolari is. We snagged the quote from an academic outline of lecture notes for a course entitled "Women and Art".It is true that they [Lavinia Fontana's paintings] do not have the excellence and valor to be found in such things by great men, because they are after all by a woman who has left the usual path and all that which is suitable to their hands and fingers. -- Mazzolari
Lavinia Fontana was an Italian painter born in Bologna sometime in August of 1552. Her father, Prospero Fontana, was a well-regarded "minor" artist of the Italian Mannerist school. Lavinia is noted for her sensitivity in the use of color and her attention to detail. She apparently made over 800 paintings, of which 130 survive, including two self-portraits.
What makes Fontana unique in the history of art is that she is considered the first professional woman painter. So popular and well regarded was her work that she was able to support her large family with commissions from notable patrons, who included two Popes. Her first works, primarily portraits date from 1575. In 1577, she married Gian Paolo Zappi, an art student who had studied with her father. Together they had eleven children. Since his wife was working, Gian Paolo became a househusband, taking care of the children and generally assisting in the support of his wife's professional painting career. In 1603, Fontana moved to Rome where she continued to work. She died in Rome on August 11, 1614.
It was not until the end of the 20th Century that the 16th Century artist's work was exhibited in the United States. In 1998, the National Museum of Women in the Arts had a show that displayed 24 of Fontana's paintings.
- Fontana Biography @ artnet.com
- Defining the Renaissance Virtuosa: Women Artists and the Language of Art History and Criticism by Fredrika H. Jacobs Book Review by Babette Bohn, Texas Christian University
- Women Artists of Bologna: Patriarchal Ideology and 'Feminist' Responses in the Work of Caterina dei Vigri, Lavinia Fontana and Elizabetta Sirani Abstract of Master's Thesis by Maria Mantziou, University of Exeter. August 1994.
- Fontana Profile @ National Musueum of Women in the Arts
- Lavinia Fontana Show Press Release National Musuem of Women in the Arts (NMWA)
- Review of National Musuem of Women in the Arts Fontana Show
Lavinia Fontana at the Cosmic Baseball Association
Fontana was drafted February 11, 2000 by the Bhutan Vanguards of the Cosmic Middleleague. She had been scouted out while pitching in the Minerva League outside Bologna. The Vanguards use her mostly for middle relief duty. She is well-liked by her teammates as is her husband, Gian Paolo Zappi, who each day brings to the stadium his wife's meals. Several or more of the Fontana clan can be seen rooting for the Vanguards at most home games.